The Best Vintage Store You Don't Know About
March 6, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Low-cost/free ads and self-promotion for a vintage clothing business in DC. Any suggestions? Websites, local publications, blogs-- who should know about us?

I just started renting a space in a DC-area vintage store, where I sell vintage clothes and accessories. The store's well-established and gets moderate foot traffic, but I feel like it could be doing a lot better if the right people knew about it. What are some good places I can promote the store that don't cost a ton and will get the right eyeballs? I've already emailed every DC-area vintage and style blogger I could find-- what's my next step?
posted by nonasuch to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Emailing the bloggers is a a good first step, but I would also offer them something so that they'll be more likely to feature your business. For example, offer them an accessory as a giveaway piece, plus a discount code for readers of the blog.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:46 AM on March 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Google Adwords.
posted by PSB at 8:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you have some goodlooking friends, they could stroll around the local area dressed in vintage outfits handing out flyers.
posted by humph at 8:53 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Facebook ads are so cheap these days they're practically free.
posted by spilon at 8:57 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Make sure you use the customers you are getting to spread the word -- have small flyers at the checkout counter that give easy directions on how to leave a google or yelp review.

You could also have a little event, with drinks and snacks. Publicize it on your FB page and hand out the flyers to people who attend. Events always make people feel special and having some wine makes them more likely to buy!

I second the FB ad recommendation. They can target people in your area who have listed vintage as one of their interests, so you know you're talking to the right people.
posted by missjenny at 9:01 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have a Facebook page? If not, that should be your first step (and make sure it's a "page" not a "profile.") Encourage visitors to "check in" when they shop there. Same with FourSquare, etc.
posted by radioamy at 9:49 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Facebook Page plus talking to bloggers (not just emailing them, participate in their site first, then send an email intro-ing yourself).
posted by dripdripdrop at 10:01 AM on March 6, 2012

Could you start your own vintage fashion blog or tumblr? I think it would be cool to see how you would style pieces you sell in the shop, featuring real people in the clothes as well as pictures of displays, events, etc. You could also incorporate styling ideas into the shop -- like near the hats, have cute pictures of people wearing the hats with different types of outfits or different occasions.
posted by wsquared at 11:31 AM on March 6, 2012

My wife has had good luck with Google Adwords. I don't think she's tried Facebook ads, though she does have a page there. My wife is in a different business, but she had great luck handing out heart-shaped mint tins with her business name on them on Feb. 14th.

Do think about who is unsuccessfully looking for you, or who would come in if they only knew you were there. My wife's effort is mainly to let gay folks in other jurisdictions know that they can come to DC to get married--many, many people simply don't know the option exists. Once they know what can be done, they're enthusiastic about using her services, and everybody wins.

If it's Miss Pixies, a lot of folks simply don't know that it exists, and is as cool as it is. They sponsor roller derby and Girls Rock DC, so I'd heard of them and knew they were funky. I was furniture shopping with my 16-year-old daughter, the same child I took to roller derby and Girls Rock, so their store was perfect--we were looking for them, and they wanted us to come in. But they're in a part of town I don't often go, and there's construction and all that, so I wasn't going to go through the trouble of getting up there until I just happened to find myself on the sidewalk outside. Of course, yes, they had the perfect thing, at the price I was looking for, but I almost settled for something else instead of trucking me and my girl up there on a Saturday. If you can get those Whole Fooders to turn the corner onto 14th St., you're golden. Handbills, maybe?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2012

Get a booth at Eastern Market to show off your wares? (No idea how easy or expensive this is to do as a one-time thing)

Sponsor an amateur sports league and get your name on the back of some jerseys or t-shirts.

Get people to review you on Yelp.

Make sure that you're googleable, and on Google maps.

A Facebook page and twitter account never hurt either. Advertising on FB is dirt cheap.

Run a Foursquare or Facebook checkin deal (Say 10% off your customers' first two purchases with a checkin or 'like'). That 10% potentially buys you a lot of highly relevant eyeballs.

Make a Pinterest. Post (good) photos of your coolest stuff to it with your name somehow attached.

Get mentioned on a local blog like Prince of Petworth. Generally they cover new business openings. Don't spam the comments. Doesn't need to be a style blog; people who read style blogs already know where to buy clothes.

If you're in DC proper, network with your BID. They've got a lot of resources at their disposal, and want you to succeed. If you're in the 14th St / Midcity area, absolutely participate in the sidewalk sale.

For that matter, do whatever you can to establish your "street presence" on weekends. You want to draw people into your store.
posted by schmod at 12:05 PM on March 6, 2012

Thanks for all these great suggestions! The store is Polly Sue's in Takoma Park, which means a certain amount of guaranteed traffic but some difficulty getting people within DC to come visit. I will definitely look into Google and Facebook ads, and talk to the store owner about raising our profile on Facebook.
posted by nonasuch at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2012

There are often listservs for the neighborhoods, so maybe see if someone in Takoma Park and/or Takoma DC knows of them, and see if you'll be allowed to announce grand opening, a big sale, etc.

Another target audience is college students and the associated outlets (student media, bulletin boards, etc.) -- don't forget the smaller unis in the area, too!
posted by ArgyleMarionette at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2012

This may seem like an idea out of antiquity, but I often look at the ads in the Washington City Paper (which also has a website) and the Express when I'm on the metro. I found out about a couple consignment shops that I really like that way. Also, I love to shop for clothes, but I don't really read style blogs, though I do read a some local general interest blogs (DCist, for one).
posted by bluefly at 1:41 PM on March 6, 2012

Yes, you could advertise in the Maryland paper, the Diamondback.
posted by bluefly at 1:43 PM on March 6, 2012

If you have some attractive friends who would fit into your merchandise . . . or a salesperson on staff who'd like to venture out. . .

Dress this person in an interesting yet 'in' way. Attach small but noticeable price tags to to each piece and arm your person with flyers for your business (Vintage is Green etc). Have your person walk around farmer's markets, outdoor art shows, craft markets, flea markets etc - anywhere your type of client would congregate.

Your flyers should say" "Want to Wear the Clothes off My Back?"

The absolute best person to do this is someone who doesn't have a problem talking to people, striking up conversations and generally being friendly.

(also, if you have a specialty in larger size vintage clothes = be sure to mention that on your flyer. I know someone in Arlington who is always hunting for size 14-16 women's or larger sized men's for her and her husband.)
posted by jaimystery at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2012

Try to get a free writeup in the Post's Style and/or Local Living sections. Baltimore Sun too. And the Baltimore City Paper.
posted by caclwmr4 at 2:02 PM on March 6, 2012

I suppose this is implied in my earlier answer, but you should look into sponsoring roller derby and Girls Rock DC. These are the folks that like that kind of stuff and have the money to pay for it. I've been to your store only once, but my impression is that it's not a discount store; rather, it's a place to get nice, but often pricey, vintage items.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:04 PM on March 6, 2012

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